THE SYMBOLISM OF FIRE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
J.C. Cooper, in his book of symbols, writes: “Fire manifested as flame symbolizes spiritual power and forces, transcendence and illumination, and is a manifestation of divinity or the soul, the pneuma, the breathe of life; it is also inspiration and enlightenment.”( Cooper J.C. AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLISM. Thames and Hudson, Ltd. London, 1978.p.66.)
“Fire has connections with the baptism of Jesus; in a good deal of Greek thought [the Greek word for Holy Spirit] and [the Greek word for fire] are closely related; and so, too, fire is bound up with the experience of ecstasy. In e.g.; Philo, de Vit. Mays., and the Mithras Litury. Barrett, C.K. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE GOSPEL TRADITION. London, 1947. p.125.
The word “fire” is mentioned several hundred times in the King James Version of the Bible. The sacrifice of the Lord is made by fire (Exodus 29:18, 25); Leviticus 2:10-11; Leviticus 6:13; Numbers 28:6; Deuteronomy 4:33; Joshua 13:14; I Samuel 2:28; II Chronicles 2:4; Isaiah 24:15; Matthew 3:11; Luke 1:9; Revelations 8:4-5)
Abraham, the father of the Israelite nation, came from Ur, which was a city of ancient Sumer in South Babylonia. For the Babylonians, fire was essential to sacrifice and all oblations were conveyed to the gods by fire. Girru-Nusku, whose presence as an intermediary between the gods and man was indispensible. Girru-Nusku, as the messenger of the gods, bore the essence of the offerings upward to them in the smoke of the sacrificial fire.
At Babylon: “The glorious gods smell the incense, noble food of heaven; pure wine which no hand has touched do they enjoy.” (L. Jeremias, in Encyclopaedia Biblica, i.v. 4119, quoting Rawlinson, Cuneif. Inscrip. IV, 19 (59).)
The most important of the ancient East Indian gods was Agni, the god of fire, who like the Babylonian god Girru-Nusku acted as a messenger between men and the gods. The fire (Agni) upon the altar was regarded as a messenger, their invoker.
“. . . For thou, O sage, goeth wisely between these two creations like a friendly messenger between two hamlets.”
Mysticism is defined as the theory or belief that man can intuitively know God or religious truth through the inward perception of the mind, a more immediate and direct method than that of ordinary understanding or sense perception; any seeking to solve the mysteries of existence by internal illumination or special revelation.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the section on “Mysticism”:
“The Vedas (Hindu sacred writings are hymns to the mystic fire and the inner sense of sacrifice, burning forever on the ‘altar Mind’. Hence, the abundance of solar and fire images: birds of fire, the fire of the sun, and the isles of fire. The symbol system of the world’s religions and mysticism are profound illuminations of the human-divine mystery. Be it the cave of the heart or the lotus of the heart, ‘the dwelling place of that which is the Essence of the Universe, “The third eye”, or the eye of wisdom – the symbols all refer back to wisdom entering the aspiring soul on its way toward progressive self-understanding. ‘I saw the Lord with the Eye of the Heart. I said, “Who art thou?” And he answered, “Thou.’”
The ancient Indian mystics said, “. . . that in the ecstasy of bhang (marijuana) the spark of the Eternal in man turns into light the murkiness of matter or illusion and the self is lost in the central soul fire. Raising man out of himself and above mean individual worries, bhang makes him one with the divine force of nature and the mystery ‘I am he’ grew plain.” (Taken from the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, which was written at the turn of the twentieth century.)
Hallmarks of the mystic are ecstasy-of standing outside ones normal self-or of rapture-of seizure by things beyond-Angus Samuel. THE MYSTERY RELGIONS AND CHRISTIANITY. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1925.p.x.
The concept of spiritual or inner light was found throughout the ancient world. As we shall see that spiritual light was directly related to the burning of incense. According to Lucie Lamy in “Egyptian Mysteries”, page 24:
“The Pharaonic word for light was akh. This word, often translated as “transfigured,” designated transcendental light as well as all aspects of physical light; and in the funerary text it denotes the state of ultimate sublimation.
The word akh, first of all, is written with a glyph showing a crested ibis, ibis comata. This bird – the name of which was also akh – lived in the southern part of the Arabian side of the Red Sea (near Al Qunfidhah) and migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) during the winter. Both these places are near the regions from which sacred incense came, and were called the “Divine Land”. The bird’s crest, together with its dark green plumage shot with glittering metallic specks justifies the meanings ‘to shine’, ‘to be resplendent’, ‘to irradiate’; of the root akh in the hieroglyphic writing.
Akh indeed expresses all notions of light, both literally and figuratively, from the Light which comes forth from Darkness to the transcendental light of transfiguration. It is also used to designate the ‘third eye’, the ureaeus, related in old tradition to the pineal body and to the spirit.”
In the next chapter we will see that the sacred cloud of incense was instrumental in the transfiguration of Christ.
MARIJUANA AS THE CHRISTIAN SACRAMENT
According to Jack Herer in The Emperor Wears No Clothes or Everything You Wanted to Know about Marijuana but Were Not Taught in School, “The Essenes, a kabalistic priest/prophet/healer sect of Judaism dating back to the era of the Dead Sea Scrolls, used hemp, as did the Theraputea of Egypt, from where we get the term ‘therapeutic’.”
The Theraputea of Egypt were Jewish ascetics that dwelt near Alexandria and described by Philo (1st Century B.C.) as devoted to contemplation and meditation. Alexandria is where St. Mark is traditionally held to have established the Coptic Church in 45 A.D.
The Coptic Church has been neglected by Western scholars despite its historical significance. This has been due to the various biases and interest of the Catholic Church which claimed Christianity for its own. The result is that for the Coptic Church there is very little history. It is however assumed that the Coptic religious services have their roots in the earliest layers of Christian ritual in Jerusalem and it is known that the Coptic Church is of ancient origin going back to the time of the first Christian communities and even before.
Tradition states that “Coptic” was derived from “Kuftaim”, son of Mizraim, a grandchild of Noah who first settled in the Nile valley, in the neighborhood of Thebes, the ancient capital of Egypt. At one time Thebes was the greatest city in the world and history records that by 2200 B.C. the whole of Egypt was united under a Theban prince. The splendor of Thebes was known to Homer, who called it “the city with a hundred gates.” (Richard Schultes states that in ancient Thebes marijuana was made into a drink.)
According to E. A. Wallis Budge in The Divine Origin of the Herbalist, page 79, “The Copts, that is to say the Egyptians who accepted the teachings of St. Mark in the first century of our era, and embraced Christianity, seem to have eschewed medical science as taught by the physicians of the famous School of Medicine of Alexandria, and to have been content with the methods of healing employed by their ancestors.”
The Essenes were an ascetic sect closely related to the Theraputea that had established a monastic order in the desert outside of Palestine and were known as spiritual healers. It has been suggested that both John the Baptist and Jesus may have been of the Essene teachings. The scripture makes no mention of the life of Jesus from the age of 13 to 30. Certain theologians speculate that Jesus was being initiated by the Essenes, the last fraternity to keep alive the ancient traditions of the prophets.
Every prophet, however great, must be initiated. His higher self must be awakened and made conscious so that his mission can be fulfilled. Amongst the Essenes’ ritual lustrations preceded most liturgical rites, the most important one of which was participation in a sacred meal – an anticipation of the Messianic banquet.
Throughout the ancient world sacrifice was a sacramental communal meal involving the idea of the god as a participant in the meal or as identical with the food consumed. The communion sacrifice was one in which the deity indwells the oblation so that the worshiper actually consume the divine. The original motive of sacrifice was an effort toward communion among the members of a group, on one hand, and between them and their god, on the other. At its best, sacrifice was a “sacrament” and in one form or another life itself.
The central focus of the early Christian church was the Eucharist or the “body and blood” of the Lord. This was interpreted as a fellowship meal with the resurrected Christ. In meeting the Resurrected One in the Eucharist meal the Christian community had the expectation of the Kingdom of God and salvation.
Christ communicated life to his disciples through the Eucharist or Christian sacrament. Christ said in describing the sacrament, “Take, eat, this is my body, this is my blood. Do this as often as you will in remembrance of me.” (I Corinthians 11:24-25)
Baptism is defined as the Christian sacrament used in purification and the spiritual rebirth of the individual. I Corinthians 10:1 makes it clear that the smoking cloud of incense was directly related to baptism.
(I Corinthians 10:1-3) “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed thru the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the Cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; for they drank of that Spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
John 'called upon his followers 'to be united by baptism', but the phrase itself in Greek baptismo synienai, meant a rite of initiation of some kind....' (Carmichael 1989)
In the Biblical story of Creation, God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed and to you it will be for meat.” (Genesis 1:29) Marijuana is technically an herb and was considered a spiritual meat in the ancient world.
From I Corinthians 10:1-3, we see that the spiritual cloud resulting from the burning of incense was instrumental in the baptism of the Israelites. This baptism is also compared to the “eating and drinking” of the spirit of Christ.
Spirit is defined as the active essence of the Deity serving as an invisible and life-giving or inspiring power in motion. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that the sacrificial cloud or smoke contained the Spirit of God (Christ) and was instrumental in inspiring, sanctifying, and purifying the patriarchs.
In Numbers 11:25 the cloud results in the Spirit resting upon Moses and the seventy elders. This passage indicates that they prophesied ecstatically. “Prophesy” is defined as follows: To utter or announce by or as if by divine inspiration; to speak for God or a deity; to give instruction in religious matters. Throughout the Holy Bible, prophets of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. The smoking burning cloud of incense contained the spirit and was instrumental in bringing about the spiritual revelations of the prophets. In the ancient world, marijuana was used to enhance speech-giving and inspiration of mental powers.
“Psychoactive” is defined as affecting the mind or behavior. When we of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church think of mind or behavior, we think of that inward essence or element that makes up the individual. This is the person’s spirit. We are all spiritual beings. It is just as important to keep the spiritual part of a person healthy as it is to keep the physical body healthy and, in fact, they are related. Hence, we have marijuana and its relationship to spiritual food.
In the Apocrypha (Book of Jubilees), Chapter 10, God tells an angel to teach Noah the medicines which heal and protect from evil spirits. Surely, God taught Noah about marijuana. In the ancient world marijuana played an important role in purification and protecting from evil influences.
Note the following concerning the transfiguration of Christ:
(St. Mathew17:1-5) “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart. And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias. When he yet spake, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
The Bible Dictionary by John McKenzie, page 898, says concerning the transfiguration that the cloud and the formula of the utterance of the father are derived from the baptism of Jesus. He says that the change described in the appearance of Jesus suggests the change which is implied in the resurrection narratives.
Some of the synonyms for transfiguration are transformation, metamorphosis, transubstantiation, and avatar. These terms imply the change that accompanies resurrection or deification. Across the world, legends of godlike men who managed to rise, in a state of perfection, go back to an era before human beings had cast away from the divine source. Hence, the gods were beings which once were men, and the actual race of men will in time become gods. Christ revealed this to the people of his day when he told them to whom the word of God came, “Ye are gods.” (St. John 10:34)
St. Matthew 17:2 says that during the transfiguration of Christ that his face did shine as the sun. The face of Moses also shone when he returned from the cloud on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 30:34). The shining countenances are the result of their resurrections, of their being spiritually illuminated in the cloud of smoking incense.
Most people are under the impression that Christ baptized with water. As you can see from the following account of John the Baptist, this isn’t so. John the Baptist baptized with water, and Christ baptized with fire.
(St. Matthew 3:11) “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Baptism by fire restores primordial purity by burning away the dross and is associated with passing through fire to regain Paradise which, since it was lost, has been surrounded by fire or protected by guardians, with swords of flame, which symbolizes understanding barring the way to the ignorant or unenlightened. Cooper, J.C. AN ILLUSTTATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLISM. Thames and Hudson, Ltd. London. 1978. p62.
It is only logical that this baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire is related to the baptism of Christ in the burning, smoking cloud of incense and to the baptism of the patriarchs in which the patriarchs did all eat of the same spiritual meal (incense). In the section dealing with the “Holy Spirit”, the Encyclopedia Britannica states that Christian writers have seen in various references to the Spirit of Yahweh in the Old Testament an anticipation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It also says that the Holy Spirit is viewed as the main agent of man’s restoration to his original natural state through communion in Christ’s body and, thus, as the principle of life in the Christian community.
The patriarchs were recipients of a revelation coming directly from the Spirit (incense) and this was expressed in the heightening and enlargement of their consciousness. It is clear from Scripture that this spiritual dimension was also evident in the life of Jesus, in whom the experience of the Hebrew prophets was renewed. Through the Eucharist Christ passed this spiritual dimension on to his apostles. One of the apostles even makes mention in Philippians 4:18 of a sweet smelling sacrifice that is well pleasing to God.
Christ compares his baptism to the drinking of a cup.
(St. Mark 10:38) “But Jesus said unto them, ‘Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’”
This cup is referred to as the cup of salvation in Psalms 116:12.
(Psalms 116:12) “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.”
It is called the cup of blessing in connection with the Eucharist.
(I Corinthians 10:16-17) “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood and the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of one bread.”
Here we see a connection between the cup of blessing and the communion of the blood of Christ. Blood is the life-giving substance of the living being. Christ communicated life to his disciples through the Eucharist or Christian sacrament.
In I Corinthians 10:16, we note the mention of bread as the communion of the body of Christ and that we are all partakers of one bread. This is the spiritual bread or food used by Christ and his disciples. (A synonym for the Eucharist or Body and Blood of the Lord is the bread of life.) It is interesting to note that the finest marijuana in Jamaica is called Lamb’s bread.
(I Corinthians 12:13) “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”
(I Corinthians 11:25) “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”
If these passages are compared to I Corinthians 10:1-4, it is plain that the “eating of one bread: is the same as the patriarchs “eating the same spiritual meat” and the “drinking of one Spirit” (the cup) is the same as the patriarchs “drinking of the Spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” By making this comparison we see that the terminology of the Eucharist is directly related to the smoking cloud of incense used in the baptism of Christ and the patriarchs.
It is interesting to note that smoking was referred to as “eating” or “drinking” by the early American Indians. Peter J. Furst in “Hallucinogen and Culture” states the following:
“Considering its enormous geographic spread in the Americas at the time of European discovery, as well as the probable age of stone tobacco pipes in California, the inhaling (often called “drinking” or “eating”) of tobacco smoke by the Shaman, as a corollary to therapeutic fumigation and the feeding of the gods with smoke, must also be of considerable antiquity.”
In Licit and Illicit Drugs, page 209, the following is quoted: “Columbus and other early explorers who followed him were amazed to meet Indians who carried rolls of dried leaves that they set afire – and who then ‘drank the smoke’ that emerged from the rolls. Other Indians carried pipes in which they burned the same leaves, and from which they similarly drank the smoke.”
The Encyclopedia Britannica states in the section on “Sacrifice” that the interpretation of sacrifice and particularly of the Eucharist as sacrifice has varied greatly within the different Christian traditions because of the sacrificial terminology in which the Eucharist was originally described became foreign to Christian thinkers.
We of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church declare that the true understanding of the Eucharist has been passed down from generation to generation so that we are able to give an accurate interpretation of the sacrificial terminology used to describe the Eucharist. We have shown, using history and Biblical passages, that his terminology is directly related to burning smoking incense. We have shown that the “eating” or “drinking” contained in the terminology concerning the Eucharist is associated with the inhalation of smoke. We have shown that marijuana was used as incense and that it was the number one spiritual plant of the ancient world.
We of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church declare that the cup that Christ baptized his disciples with in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire was in fact a pipe or chillum in which marijuana was smoked. This is a bottomless cup and soon as it is emptied; it is filled again and passed in a circle. Like the pipe of the ancient North American Indians, this cup was a portable altar.
Christ was the Father of the doctrine of the Eucharist which is a communion that Jesus gave his brethren. Jesus taught that the communion is his body and blood. Jesus was not speaking of His physical body and blood. He was speaking of his spiritual body and spiritual blood that was the communion of his holy church. The supper that Jesus celebrated with his disciples “on the night that he was betrayed” (I Corinthians 11:23) inaugurated the heavenly meal that was to be continued.
(I Corinthians 11:23-29) “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it and said, “Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.” After the same manner also he took the cup, which he had supped, saying, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink of this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat of this bread and drink of this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and let him eat of the bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
Christ said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Here the original unity of man with God is restored. In general the reception of the Holy Spirit is connected with the actual realization, the inward experiencing of God. Marijuana is the plant the ancients used to realize that God or Goddess within.
Marijuana has been referred to as a mild euphoric (the producer of a feeling of well-being) that produces a profound religious experience of a mystical and transcendental nature. This religious experience is said to be brought about by the stirring of deeply buried, unconscious sensitivities so that one experiences ultimate reality or the divine and confirms the feeling of the worshiper that he has been in the presence of God and has assimilated some of his powers.
To be lifted above sense to behold the beatific vision and become “incorporate” in God is the end sought in ecstasy. The priest or mystic in enthusiasm or ecstasy enjoys the beatific vision by entering into communion with God and by undergoing deification. The experience of ecstasy, states Mircea Eliade, one of the foremost authorities on religion, is a timeless primary phenomenon. Psychological experience of rapture, he continues, is fundamental to the human condition and hence known to the whole of archaic humanity. (Some of the synonyms of rapture are bliss, beatitude, transport, exaltation.)
Baudelaire, a member of the Club Des Hashichins (Hashish Club) founded in Paris around 1835 and writer of Artificial Paradises states the following about hashish: Hashish is the unadulterated resin from the flowering tops of the female hemp plant.
“One will find in hashish nothing miraculous, absolutely nothing but an exaggeration of the natural. The brain and organism on which hashish operates will produce only the normal phenomena peculiar to that individual – increased, admittedly, in number and force, but always faithful to the original. A man will never escape from his destined physical and moral temperament: hashish will be a mirror of his impression and private thoughts – a magnifying mirror, it is true, but only a mirror.”
He cautions that the user must be in the right frame of mind to take hashish, for just as it exaggerates the natural behavior of the individual, so too does hashish intensify the user’s immediate feelings. Baudelaire describes three successive phases a hashish user will pass through. He says the final state is marked by a feeling of calmness, in which time and space have no meaning, and there is a sense that one has transcended matter. He says that in this state, one final supreme thought breaks into consciousness. “I have become God.”
Realization of one’s union with God is necessary in understanding the true Christian sacrament. The understanding of man’s relationship to God and God’s relationship to man (God in Man and Man in God) was quite prevalent in the ancient world, particularly among the religions that utilized marijuana as part of their religious practice.
Said the great Hindu sage, Manu, “He who in his own soul perceives the Supreme Soul in all beings, and acquires equanimity toward them all, attains the highest bliss.” To recognize oneness of self with God was contained in all the teachings of Guatama Buddha. In the Liturgy of Mithra (the Persian god of light and truth) the suppliant prays “abide with me in my soul; leave me not,” and “that I may be initiated and that the Holy Spirit may breathe within me.” The communion became so intimate as to pass into identity: “I am thou and thou art I.” Athanasius, a theologian, ecclesiastical statesman, and Egyptian national leader who was closely tied to the Coptic Church in Egypt said, “Even we may become gods walking in the flesh,” and “God became man that man might become God.”
Western theology (Catholic and Protestant) teaches that the spirit created matter but remained aloof of it. In Hinduism and other Eastern religions, the spirit is the inside, the matter is the outside; the two are inseparable. Eastern theologians have rightly perceived that the God one worships must possess all the aspects of his worshipers’ nature as well as his own divine nature. Otherwise, how can he create beings whose nature is entirely foreign to his own? What, then, would be the meaning of the Biblical phrase: “God made man in his own image”?
The fact that modern Christiandom has no sense of union with God has led to numerous churches without the understanding for building a Christian culture and kingdom to replace the confusion of modern politics. This was not lacking in the ancient church and was a major source of enthusiasm for the prophets of old. In fact, the power of the early church was manifested due to this understanding of the spirit of God dwelling in man, the temple of God. To the ancient prophets it was not a God above, nor a God over yonder, but a God within. “Be still and know that I am God” – for the visionaries and mystics of every time and place, this has been the first and greatest of the commandments.
In I Corinthians 11:28 Christ said, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.”
Probably the most relevant study to date about what might be considered typical marijuana experience concludes that marijuana gives spontaneous insights into self (Dr. Charles Tart, “On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication,” Science and Behavior, 1971).
The sacramentality of marijuana is declared by Christ himself and can be understood only when a person partakes of the natural divine herb. The fact is that the communion of Jesus cannot be disputed or destroyed. Marijuana is the new wine divine and cannot be compared to the old wine, which is alcohol. Jesus rejected the old wine and glorified the “new wine” at the wedding feast of Cana. Cana is a linguistic derivation of the present day cannabis and so it is. (Some Biblical scholars – and there is a certain amount of support in early tradition for the view – have looked upon the miracle of Cana as a sign of the Eucharist.)
Note the references to new wine in the Bible: (Isaiah 65:8) “Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it; so will I do for my servant’s sake.
(Acts 2:13) “Others mocking said, ‘These men are full of new wine.’”
Isaiah 65:8 declares that the new wine is found in the cluster and that a blessing is in it. When one mentions clusters, one thinks of clusters of grapes.
Webster’s New Riverside Dictionary, Office Edition, defines marijuana: 1. Hemp 2. The dried flower clusters and leaves of the hemp plant, esp. when taken to induce euphoria.
The Encyclopedia Britannica says the following about hemp: Seed producing flowers form elongate, spike like clusters, growing on the pistillate, or female plants; pollen producing flowers form many branched clusters or staminate, or male plants. Here, and in Webster’s, marijuana fits the description of new wine and as history has shown a blessing is in it.
Baudelaire said the following about the effects of hashish:
“This marvelous experience often occurs as if it was the effect of superior and invisible power acting on the person from without . . . This delightful and singular state gives no advance warning. It is as unexpected as a ghost, an intermittent haunting from which we must draw, if we are wise, the certainty of a better existence. This acuteness of thought, this enthusiasm of the senses and the spirit must have appeared to man through the ages as the first blessing.”
In the books of Acts, the apostles were accused of being full of new wine. Acts 2:13 was the time of the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles. Numerous outpourings of the Spirit are mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles in which healing, prophesy, and the expelling of demons are particularly associated with the activity of the Spirit. Incense (marijuana) was used by the ancients for healing, prophesy, and the expelling of demons. Holy anointing oil was also used for healing, prophesy and the expelling of demons. .
When Christ ascended into heaven in the cloud (Acts 1:9-11) he sent his disciples the Holy Spirit with the “gift of tongues” (Acts 2:3) and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and were given the power to speak a language that all men could understand. The fiery tongues expressed the power to prophesy or witness. (Marijuana has been credited with speech giving and inspiration of mental powers.)
The first two gifts of the Holy Spirit are traditionally said to be wisdom and understanding, which no doubt are the two things most needed by the human race. In Jamaica today, marijuana is referred to as the “weed of wisdom” and is reputed to be the plant that grew on Solomon’s grave, a man known for his great wisdom. Marijuana expands consciousness and enhances the capacity for mystical and creative inspiration.
In Acts 2:3, Fire speaks figuratively of the Holy Spirit. Fire was also a means in which to transport a saint to heaven.
(II Kings 2:11) “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
Recent writers have speculated that this passage was in a reference to flying saucers. That is because they look at this passage physically. This ascension of Elijah, like the ascension of Christ in the cloud into heaven, is the “withdrawal” from the external or physical world, to the inner or spiritual world, to be the inmost reality of all. This can be referred to as ecstasy, rapture, or transport and is a result of the Holy Spirit. Ecstasy, rapture or transport, therefore, agree in designating a feeling or state of intense, often extreme, mental and emotional exaltation. Rapture is defined as ecstatic joy or delight; joyful ecstasy. Some of the synonyms of rapture are bliss, beatitude, transport, and exultation. The true rapture is therefore one in which one is spiritually transported to the heavens. Don’t expect to float up into the sky.
Marijuana as history has shown is the catalyst used to achieve the spiritual journey into the heavens. That is why in India it was referred to as the Heavenly-Guide, the Poor Man’s Heaven, and the Sky-Flier. That is why Professor Mircea Eliade, perhaps the foremost authority on the history of religion, suggested that Zoroaster may have used hemp to bridge the metaphysical gap between heaven and earth.
One dictionary defines marijuana as the leaves and flowering tops when taken to induce euphoria. Euphoria is defined by the same dictionary as great happiness or bliss. (In India, marijuana has been referred to as the joy-giver and the soother of grief.) Bliss is defined as the ecstasy of salvation, spiritual joy. Some of the synonyms of bliss are beatitude, transport, rapture, ecstasy, paradise, heaven.
Throughout the ancient world, there is mention of “magical flight”, “ascent to heaven” and “mystical journey”. All these mythological and folklore traditions have their point of departure in an ideology and technique of ecstasy that imply “journey in spirit”.
The pilgrimage from earth to heaven is not a journey to some other place or some other time, but is a journey within. One must realize that “death” through which we must pass before God can be seen does not lie ahead of us in time. Rather, it is now that we have a man of sin within us that must be killed and a new man free from sin that must be born. This is actualized in baptism and the sacramental life in the church. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). The effect of baptism is spiritual regeneration or rebirth, whereby one is “enChristened”, involving both union with Christ and remission of sins. In Titus 3:5, baptism is the “bath of regeneration” accompanying renewal by the Spirit. Some of the synonyms of regeneration are beatification, conversion, sanctification, salvation, inspiration, bread of life, Body and Blood of Christ.
Sara Benetowa of the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw is quoted in the Book of Grass as saying:
“By comparing the old Slavic word ‘Kepati’ and the Russian ‘Kupati’ with the Scythian ‘cannabis’ Shrader developed and justified Meringer’s supposition that there is a link between the Scythian baths and Russian vapor baths.
“In the entire Orient even today to ‘go to the bath’ means not only to accomplish an act of purification and enjoy a pleasure, but also to fulfill the divine law. Vambery calls ‘bath’ any club in which the members play checkers, drink coffee, and smoke hashish or tobacco.”
St. Matthew’s account of the institution of the Eucharist attaches to the Eucharist cup these words: “Drink of it, for this is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins (St. Matthew 26:27). Drinking the sacramental cup, therefore, serves like baptism (Acts 2:38) where Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church declare a three-part doctrine of the Holy Herb, the Holy Word, and the Holy Man (Woman).
The present and future benefits to the individual communicant have their importance given them by Jesus, who said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:54) As such we must see that the divine person who is active in creation, in renewal, and in human rebirth and resurrection, is also active in the Eucharist.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, in the section on “Roman Catholicism”:
“To understand the meaning and use of the Eucharist we must see it as an act of universal worship, of cooperation, of association else it loses the greater part of its significance. Neither in Roman Catholic nor in Protestant Eucharist practice does the sacrament retain much of the symbolism of Christian unity, which it clearly has. Originally, the symbolism was that of a community meal, an accepted social symbol of community throughout the whole of human culture.”
Marijuana has been used as a sacrifice, a sacrament, a ritual fumigant (incense), a good will offering, and as a means of communing with the divine spirit. It has been used to seal treaties, friendships, and solemn binding agreements and to legitimize covenants. It has been used as a traditional defense against evil and in purification. It has been used in divinations (1. the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge; 2. unusual insight; intuitive perception.) It has been used and praised for its medicinal properties.
Most Christians agree that participation in the Eucharist is supposed to enhance and deepen communion of believers not only with Christ but also with one another. We must, therefore, ask the question, “What substance did the ancients use as a community meal to facilitate communion with one another and with the Lord?” The answer to that question is marijuana. Hemp as originally used in religious ritual, temple activities, and tribal rites, involved groups of worshipers rather than the solitary individual. The pleasurable psychoactive effects were then, as now communal experiences.
Practically every major religion and culture of the ancient world utilized marijuana as part of their religious observance. Marijuana was the ambrosia of the ancient world. It was the food, drink, and perfume of the gods. It was used by the Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto, Moslems and the Zoroastrian religions. It was used by the Africans, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Asians, the Europeans, and possibly the Indians of the Americas.